A highlight of FNVW’s April conference on Nonviolence in the Islamic Traditions was the screening of the film “The Frontier Gandhi: Badshah Khan, a Torch for Peace.” Badshah Khan was the Muslim counterpart to Mahatma Gandhi; they were partners in the effort to nonviolently free India and Pakistan from British rule. And yet while Gandhi has become an iconic figure, Khan is little known.
Quoting from the web site for the film:
Pronounced “a miracle” by Mahatma Gandhi, Badshah Khan (1890-1988) raised a 100,000 strong nonviolent army of men, women, and young people — the Khudai Khidmatgars, or servants of God — drawn from the multi-ethnic traditions of Afghanistan and India. Muslims, as well as Hindus, Christians, Parsees, Sikhs, and Buddhists came together in the cause of peace, social justice, religious tolerance, and human dignity for all.
In partnership with Mahatma Gandhi, the 6’5” charismatic Khan (also known as Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan) led a nonviolent resistance movement against British colonial rule in the first half of the 20th century. He openly championed women’s rights and spoke of the inherent compatibility of Islam with nonviolence. He challenged his own highly volatile culture to change its vengeful ways and to turn to the spiritual and moral strength of nonviolence. He opened schools, fought for the social improvement of the least fortunate, and was unceasing in his compassionate embrace of the poor.
Nominated twice for the Nobel Peace Prize, Badshah Khan’s improbable life and legacy remain little known. He died in 1988 at the age of 98 having spent nearly 35 years in solitary confinement for his efforts to humanize humanity.
See more at www.thefrontiergandhi.com.